Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Object-oriented Brain

The so called Object-oriented Method in Computer Science was developed to program large and complex systems. It is based on the concept of modularization - the breakdown of a complex system into smaller modules. Each of the modules should be cohesive - the elements within the module are closely tied to each other, i.e., objects within each module communicate with each other frequently. The modules, however, should only be loosely coupled to each other - the communication among modules should be few and infrequent. These modules are then called objects. There is, of course, more to the object-oriented method but cohesion (within modules and objects) and loose coupling (among modules and objects) are the fundamental principles of the method.

Now the brain. The brain is essentially composed of about 100 billion neurons, which communicate with each other through electrical signals along fibers called axons. Each neuron can be considered to be a very simply computer. Upon closer inspection, the neurons are not distributed evenly. They are lumped together in clumps. Within each clump, the neurons are close to each other and tightly connected through the axons. Among the clumps. the connections are longer, but fewer. So the neuron clumps are cohesive internally, but loosely coupled externally.

Doesn’t that sound familiar? The brain is object-oriented! That shouldn’t come as a surprise, though. Computer scientists have discovered that modularization is an efficient way to organize programs and information systems. And the brain is obviously an efficient computational organism. Scientists have simply discovered something that God and nature have known for a long time.

It is an amazing world, isn't it?

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